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Understanding Communication Styles

Lesson plan

Time:

90 minutes

Level:

B2 and above

Objective:

To raise awareness of different communication style and how they affect

Materials:

behaviour and language choice One copy per participant of pages 1-3 One role (from pages 4-5) per person, in groups of 4. This can be done in pairs or smaller groups, with fewer communication types being role-played. The conversation questions on page 6 can be cut up in advance, one set per pair or small group for discussion.

  • 1. Lead-in: discuss the message behind the cartoon.

  • 2. Discussion questions: learners talk about good and bad communication experiences and reflect on their own communication.

  • 3. Explain that they are going to complete a questionnaire (page 2). The results will identify how they prefer to communicate. The students should tick all the statements that they think are relevant for them. At the end of each sentence there is a letter do not explain the significance until they are all finished.

  • 4. On page 3 they will find an answer key. They should note how many As, Cs, Ps and Ts they have, to identify their dominant communication style. Many people will have two dominant styles.

  • 5. The learners can discuss how accurate they found the questionnaire (see the questions at the bottom of page 3).

  • 6. In groups of four, give each learner a role play card (A-D). Make sure that they do not see the role on the other peoplescards! They are going to have a conversation and try to reach an agreement. They should do this in the communication style on their card. At the same time, they are going to try and guess the communication style of their group members, according to their behaviour. You may wish to give them a few minutes to prepare for this. Limit the role playing time to five 5 10 minutes. For smaller groups, distribute fewer roles.

  • 7. When they have finished the role play they should discuss what communicative behaviour would have made the conversation easier what could they have said and done to help reach an agreement more quickly and with less conflict? They can feedback their ideas to the whole class.

  • 8. Finally learners discuss the conversations questions, which allow them to reflect more on communication styles.

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Communication Styles

Lead-in

Look at the following cartoon. What is the message?

www.businessenglishexperience.com Communication Styles Lead-in Look at the following cartoon. What is the message? Discussion: Source <a: http://bit.ly/WunDQa Answer the following questions in pairs or small groups: 1. Talk about a good or bad conversation you’ve had recently. Why was it good/bad? 2. What is ‘ good ’ communication for you? 3. What kind of people do you find it easy to communicate with? Which people do you find it difficult to communicate with? 4. Are you a good communicator? Discuss why/why not. 5. Do you change the way you communicate depending on who you speak to? 1 " id="pdf-obj-1-10" src="pdf-obj-1-10.jpg">

Discussion:

Answer the following questions in pairs or small groups:

  • 1. Talk about a good or bad conversation you’ve had recently. Why was it good/bad?

  • 2. What is goodcommunication for you?

  • 3. What kind of people do you find it easy to communicate with? Which people do you find it difficult to communicate with?

  • 4. Are you a good communicator? Discuss why/why not.

  • 5. Do you change the way you communicate depending on who you speak to?

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Communication Style Quiz

Tick the statements that apply to you:

  • 1. I often do more talking than listening

A

  • 2. I am more interested in information than feelings

T

  • 3. If I someone interrupts me, I find it difficult to get back to the subject

P

  • 4. I often check to make sure I’ve understood what other people say to me

C

  • 5. I prefer to discuss, rather than think about things

A

  • 6. I talk differently to different people (e.g. with some I speak more clearly and slowly)

C

  • 7. I like to listen to information that will help me solve a problem or give me new ideas

T

  • 8. I can express my ideas clearly

A

  • 9. I like conversations and discussions to keep to the point

T

  • 10. I encourage other people to talk, and I ask suitable questions

C

  • 11. I like using diagrams and charts to help me express my ideas

T

  • 12. I’m often so involved in a task that I don’t realise how other people are reacting

  • 13. I like to make ‘to do’ lists and cross things off as I complete them

P

  • 14. I like talking and working at the same time

A

  • 15. I take time to find the right words that will clearly express what I want to say

T

  • 16. I can tell when someone doesn’t understand what I’m saying

C

  • 17. When talking to people, I think about their body language

C

  • 18. I like meetings to have an agenda and a schedule

P

  • 19. If I don’t understand something, I usually stay quiet and think about it later

T

  • 20. To be really clear, I like to see things in writing

P

  • 21. I find it easy to see things from someone else’s opinion

C

  • 22. I get straight to the point in emails

P

  • 23. If I find a conversation boring, I find it difficult to concentrate

A

  • 24. My body language is quite controlled

T

  • 25. If I’m writing a formal letter or one with difficult or sad news, I often write it out several times before I send it.

C

  • 26. If I have something to add, I’ll interrupt and give my opinion

A

  • 27. I try to predict what could cause confusion, and explain things beforehand

P

  • 28. I enjoy leading a discussion (e.g. choosing the topic, controlling the pace)

A

  • 29. I present my ideas so that others consider my point of view favourably

T

Adapted from Hasson, G. (2012) Brilliant Communication Skills: what the best communicators know, do and say. Pearson Education Ltd, Harlow

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Answers:

Mostly A’s – Active communicator

Mostly C’s – Connector communicator

Mostly T’s – Theorist communicator

Mostly P’s – Purposeful communicator

Active communicators

Like spontaneity, direct and straightforward communication

Like to talk about achievements and like to make an impact may exaggerate

Like to move around when communicating

Like to be involved in discussion

Are active and persuasive

Dislike social rules, niceties and etiquette

Dislike hesitations, often change the subject

May need to improve listening skills and empathy

Connector communicators

Are friendly, easy to talk to and sympathise with others

Enjoy sharing experiences, cooperating with others, and creating a harmonious atmosphere

Are often influenced by feelings and emotions

Are usually diplomatic, considerate and try not to offend others

Avoid conflict

Expect others to consider their thoughts and feelings

May need to be a little less sensitive and more assertive

Theorist communicators

Usually think a long time before responding

Use communication to find things out

Prefer to discuss ideas and information rather than feelings and relationships

Enjoy discussing their strategies and arguments, even if evidence doesn’t support them

Can appear cold and unfriendly to communicators seeking a bond

Would rather say nothing than make a mistake

Use controlled body language and are difficult to read

Purposeful communicators

Like to have a clear objective when communicating

Dislike interruptions

Wait until discussion on one topic is finished before moving on to a new topic

Like a logical order in conversations, and often use ‘extreme’ terms, such as ‘always’, ‘never’, ‘must’, ‘should’ and ‘can’t’

Like to see things in writing to guide them and dislike discussing abstract ideas

See small talk as a waste of time they want to get things done

Can be opinionated and controlling, using swearwords, slang or offensive jokes

Adapted from Hasson, G. (2012) Brilliant Communication Skills: what the best communicators know, do and say. Pearson Education Ltd, Harlow

How accurate do you think the quiz is? Were you surprised by your result?

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Role play - A

This is an exercise to see if you can recognise different communication styles. You will be given a ‘role’ and should have a conversation in pairs or groups. While you are talking, do you recognise the communication style of the other people?

You are a connector

Your boss has asked your department to work overtime. You need to discuss this with your colleagues and decide who will work this Saturday.

sympathise with your colleagues

try and create a comfortable atmosphere, so that everyone is at ease when discussing this topic.

consider the other people’s feelings and emotions

be diplomatic, and try not to offend others

avoid conflict

When you are finished, discuss what behaviour would have made the conversation easier.

 
 sympathise with your colleagues  try and create a comfortable atmosphere, so that everyone is
 
 

Role play - B

This is an exercise to see if you can recognise different communication styles. You will be given a ‘role’ and should have a conversation in pairs or groups. While you are talking, do you recognise the communication style of the other people?

You are a theorist

Your boss has asked your department to work overtime. You need to discuss this with your colleagues and decide who will work this Saturday.

deliberate during the conversations and responding carefully

discuss the facts, not the feelings

look to complete a task rather than form a bond

say nothing if you think you might make a mistake

use controlled body language

When you are finished, discuss what behaviour would have made the conversation easier.

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Role play - C

This is an exercise to see if you can recognise different communication styles. You will be given a ‘role’ and should have a conversation in pairs or groups. While you are talking, do you recognise the communication style of the other people?

You are an active communicator

Your boss has asked your department to work overtime. You need to discuss this with your colleagues and decide who will work this Saturday.

exaggerate

move around when communicating

be persuasive

rules are for losers!

keep trying to change the subject

When you are finished, discuss what behaviour would have made the conversation easier.

When you are finished, discuss what behaviour would have made the conversation easier.
 

Role play - D

This is an exercise to see if you can recognise different communication styles. You will be given a ‘role’ and should have a conversation in pairs or groups. While you are talking, do you recognise the communication style of the other people?

You are a purposeful communicator

Your boss has asked your department to work overtime. You need to discuss this with your colleagues and decide who will work this Saturday.

react negatively to any interruptions

dont change topics wait until the first one is finished

dont waste time on small talk as a waste of time

use ‘extreme’ terms, such as ‘always’, ‘never’, ‘must’, ‘should’ and ‘can’t’

 

be opinionated and controlling

When you are finished, discuss what behaviour would have made the conversation easier.

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Conversation questions

Which types of communicators are likely to experience the greatest conflict?

What kind of training do you think would help people improve their communication?

How does body language affect communication?

Have you ever had communication training in your own language?

How do you think culture affects communication styles?

Are you a good listener?

Do some nationalities display stronger tendencies to a particular style than others?

Is it possible for a person to change the way he/she communicates?

How acceptable is it in your culture to use swearwords?

How good are you at persuading people to do something?